Fiji 31-12 Samoa: Defending Hong Kong Sevens champions open with victory

Rupert Cox wraps up the key stories from Day 1 of the Hong Kong sevens.

Fiji got their campaign for a record fourth straight title at the Hong Kong Sevens under way with a 31-12 victory over Samoa on Friday night.

The Islanders were led by the impressive Amenoni Nasilasila who added two conversions to a second-half try that came via a cross-field dash, bringing the Hong Kong Stadium to its feet.

Fiji are at full strength for the seventh leg of this year’s World Rugby Sevens Series.

And Sky Sports rugby commentator Rupert Cox – in Hong Kong reporting on the tournament – believes the Fijians are showing the kind of form that will make them difficult to beat.

“They are the form team,” said Cox. “They have come locked and loaded and fully stacked. They have a couple of Olympic gold medalists, the Commonwealth games next week, the World Cup on the horizon and they are going to hit all with their top talent.”

Speaking after the opening day, Fiji coach Gareth Baber said: “I was pleased with what we delivered, about the pace and the power of our game. I thought we could have been a bit tidier at times when we didn’t have the ball but it’s the first game, and it’s a win.”

Wiith the rugby sevens competition at the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast due to be contested next weekend, series leaders South Africa and a number of other teams have arrived in Hong Kong with development squads made up of young players rather than their regular stars.

It didn’t seem to affect the South Africans on Friday night, but their first game was a 45-0 victory over a South Korean team only making a guest appearance on World Series. They face Scotland and then England on Saturday.

The USA are another side at full strength as they look to build on a season that has already seen them break through for their first-ever title at their home leg of the World Series, in Las Vegas at the start of March.

“They started a sevens programme three years ago and they are running hot,” said Cox. “They won their opening two games and they are the bookies favourites to win their qualifying event.”